Health care has emerged as the leading issue in the mid-term election campaigns in both political parties, especially over the importance of requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions as was enacted in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). Democrats, of course, favor that popular part of the ACA, with many going farther in calling for Medicare for All, as represented by H. R. 676, the bill in the House for Expanded and Improved Medicare. In fact, 225 Democrats running for Congress this year back Medicare for All.
Republicans are in a quandary as to how to deal with strong public support, across the political spectrum, for retaining protections for pre-existing conditions, involving some 50 million Americans.Â Having already failed on multiple occasions to repeal the ACA and sabotaged it in many ways, they now find themselves vulnerable in the mid-terms. They are responding by lies and disinformation, as these examples show:
â€¢Â Â Â Trump, in a long series of outlandish lies recently published in USA Today, proclaimed that Medicare for All â€œwould eviscerate Medicare, would lead to massive rationing of health care, would eliminate choice of care, and would end up as Medicare for none.â€�Â Actually, of course, Medicare for All would assure universal coverage for all Americans without regard to pre-existing conditions.
â€¢Â Â Â Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, Trump brazenly claimed that â€œensuring coverage for those with asthma, diabetes, pregnancy, and other conditions is a Republican priority, rather than a Democratic one.â€� That false message is also being put out by Republican House and Senate candidates in competitive races across the country.
â€¢Â Â Â While Trump keeps repeating on the campaign trail that he â€œwill always protect Americans with pre-existing conditions,â€� his own Department of Justice defends a Republican lawsuit from 20 states that would invalidate pre-existing conditions if successful.
â€¢Â Â Â The Trump administration has just announced a new policy that allows states to circumvent ACAâ€™s patient protections. States can now market short-term policies with skimpy benefits that exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions as well as coverage for the ACAâ€™s ten essential benefits. As examples, these plans typically exclude coverage for maternity care, mental illness, prescription drugs, and other essential benefits. In a losing situation, Senate Democrats responded by trying to block Trumpâ€™s expansion of short-term â€œjunk insurance,â€� which forced the majority GOP to cast a vote eliminating pre-existing conditions.
â€¢Â Â Â Meanwhile, of course, top administrators in the Trump administration, fight against strong public support for Medicare for All with these kinds of distorted claimsâ€”â€œExpanding [Medicare] to all Americans would eliminate their ability to make health choices for themselves.â€� (DHHS Secretary Alex Azar) and â€œPutting more people in the program isnâ€™t going to solve the problem, and actually threatens the focus and security of the program for seniors.â€�
â€¢Â Â Â Trumpâ€™s Council of Economic Advisors has just launched a completely untrue characterization of Medicare for All, including this claimâ€”â€œEvidence on the productivity and effectiveness of single-payer systems suggests that â€˜Medicare for Allâ€™ would reduce longevity and health, particularly among the elderly, even though it would only slightly increase the fraction of the population with health insurance.â€�
All of this, of course, takes dishonesty and hypocrisy to new heights and
compromises the integrity of the democratic political process. Commenting on this situation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine, brings us this insight:
This Republican duck-and-cover effort impedes the debate we need to have. Corporations continue to abandon pension plans; most Americans have no retirement at work. Congress should be moving to expand Social Security, not cut it, and to make health care universal and affordable, not try to weaken the programs we have. If Trump and Republicans succeed in their mendacious scare campaign against those calling for Medicare for All, they will torpedo progress on any of these issues. And for that, millions ofÂ Americans will pay dearly.
Adapted in part from my new recently released book, Trumpcare: Lies, Broken Promises, How it is Failing, And What Should Be Done
Source: Finance Solidaire